Closing Races held Sunday 2nd September, 2018
The Closing Races serve a very useful purpose for the club. The event makes us tidy the place up for company (a displaced form of Spring Cleaning). This year has produced some wonderful efforts and results. It took three working parties to process the wood for winter, but (speaking as a Canadian) the satisfaction of gazing on a full log store cannot be described. Thanks to Stuart, Paul (Beaman), Prab, Alan, and Nick for their good work.
The interior of the club also saw improvements: Gillian and Stuart put a fresh coat of paint on the back room (a nice blue), and varnished the windowsills (they gleam!). Gillian and Sue then laid a new carpet in the Ladies (again, a nice blue), and Chris deployed his carpet cleaner to remove several buckets of accumulated mud from the clubroom floor.
I will save my thanks for those who supported the event on the day to the end. So: The Racing.
The day went well overall, but there were several hitches, each containing useful lessons for the future. The first was purely organisational. the tradition of closing the entries on the day must go. We held five events, and ran twenty races, which cannot be adequately organised in the 30 minutes allotted between the close of entries and the start of racing. So next year the entries close on Thursday night. So the first race started ten minutes late. Twenty strokes into the first race (a qualifier for the Junior Handicap single - J.Hcp.1x - between Stella and Charlie – there were ten entries), the backstay on Stella’s boat came loose in mid stroke, and the part of the rigger still attached to the boat became badly bent. She couldn’t scull it safely (a compliment to her watermanship that she stayed in the boat at all) so Chris Plastow hopped into Yellow Peril and gave her a tow back to the dock. I was able to straighten the rigger in our secret vice (one should always have one in reserve), but by the time racing was resumed we were 45 minutes behind. (I will be instituting a new protocol for post competition re-rigging henceforward – the rigger was never properly tightened after Warwick). The re-row was a win for Stella, who held on to 6 seconds of her 17 second handicap over Charlie.
A word on the handicapping – handicap racing is pretty brutal. I do it all the time in Masters events, and chasing down someone with a head start is tough, because you can’t let up. So I do the best I can, but the numbers are a best guess based on times taken over the year, and/or time trials the week before. The first round is a bit chancy, as handicapping is an art, not a science. By the second round the handicaps have been adjusted to make the racing fairer, and the finishes get closer. This means accurate times need to be recorded for all races (we are the only river regatta I know that does this – bar Henley), and accurate handicaps must be given at the start – of this more later.
Back to the show. Another qualifier of J.Hcp.1x – Adam G vs Luke. Luke held on to 4.5 seconds out of 25 and won.
A semi final of the new(-ish) Novice Singles event (three entries), a win for Alex over Joe by 4 Lengths.
Now the Heats of the J.Hcp.1x start: Monty was given a 26 second advantage over Beth, which turned out to be far too much (I was working from old data for Monty, who had gotten faster over the summer – Note for the Future: No hadicapping data over a month old). Beth still turned in the faster time (by four seconds), but that wasn’t nearly enough to catch Monty.
The next J.Hcp heat was closer, with Jake chasing down a 36 second deficit against Will Hall, and winning by 4.5 secs.
Then Stella tried to catch Sophie (who got 8 seconds), alas, Stella could only make up two, and lost by six.
The last of the four heats saw Luke hold off Tilly (who started 3 seconds behind), to win by only 1 second. A good race from both.
Then the race for a new event, a semi-final of Championship Coxless Pairs (Ch.2-). As Rob and I were racing Gillian and Sue, there was a handicap of 8 seconds, which we chased down to win by 2 seconds (with much wailing and gnashing of teeth). Our time was 1:50.6.
Next the other semi of Ch.2-, with Alex and Ethan racing Tom and Joe. Alex and Ethan won by three lengths.
Then Lunch was declared, during which we officially christened Cousin Dora, and thanked (despite his absence) Philip Bradley (an erstwhile friend of John Partridge) for his contribution of £2000 towards the purchase of the boat.
Racing resumed with a heat of Championship Singles (six entries), myself versus Josh. I lost by half a second (great race!), and Josh set a time that was the fastest of the day (1:49.3).
Another heat of Ch.1x Saw Chris beat Rob by 0.4 seconds (1:51.3 vs 1:51.7). Another good race!
Next the first of the semi-finals for the juniors. Luke vs Monty, with Monty waiting 4 seconds for the ‘go’. Luke held him off to win by two.
Then a disaster, and another lesson learned. Sophie raced Jake, with the handicap against Jake set at 17 seconds. Now, overall timekeeping is done at the finish (the starter has to hold a walkie-talkie throughout, so the finish can hear the start commands and operate a stopwatch). The handicap timekeeping is done by the starter, who has a stopwatch of their own.....and a megaphone....and a walkie-talkie....and only two hands. I started my watch on the first ‘go’, and noted that Jake did not get his ‘go’ until 20 seconds had passed, 3 seconds more than the handicap. Jake lost by a second, when he should have won by two.
My decision was to aplogise profusely to Sophie (and I offer that apology again), and award the race to Jake. And in future there will always be two people at the start to handle all the equipment.
Then the first of the semi-finals in Ch.1x, with Jed Campbell-Williams racing Ethan Campbell-O’Connor (no relation). Jed won in a time of 1:49.7, beating Ethan by 5 seconds.
The first final of the day was the Novice Singles event, with Alex crossing the line six seconds ahead of Harvey in a time of 2:00 even.
Then the other semi of Ch.1x, with Chris beating Josh by half a second in a time of 1:50.6. (Alas, I think the heat did for Josh, my apologies).
The second final was an example of internecine warfare (to quote the announcer at Stouport), when the brothers Jake and Luke contested the J.Hcp.1x. Jake was held back 12 seconds, but could only make up 6, leaving Luke to win the event by six seconds. It should be noted that Luke raced four times over the day, more than anyone else, and confounded the handicap system by going faster every time he raced (2:23.5, 2:20.4, 2:18.3, 2:16.6). This is a remarkable achievement.
The next final was Ch.2-, with Rob and myself beating Ethan and Alex by two seconds in a time of 1:53.4. So after six years of racing in the regatta (and running it) I finally won something!
The penultimate final was Ch.1x, with Jed beating Chris 1:50.8 to 1:52.3.
And last (and perhaps least) the Scratch Fours. Dan Levy, Jed, Gillian, and Chris (Sue cox) handily defeated Milly, Joe, Rob, and myself (Luke cox).
Six years ago we held two events (J.Hcp.1x, and Ch.1x) with a total of nine entries overall and and seven races. We are now up to five events with twenty five entries and twenty races. Not bad going.
THANK YOUS: Several names will be familiar from the first lot above: Gillian for food, Sue for Pimms, Rob for marshalling, Nick and Dominic for Umpiring, Paul for the bar (and Umpiring), Dominic (for personning the BBQ this time), Neil (Lewis – also BBQ), and anyone else who I’ve forgotten (my apologies). See you next year!